Column: Susan McClanahan: Cornmeal is a versatile ingredient for many recipes (2/17/22)

Cornmeal is nutritious, inexpensive, very versatile and can be used in many applications in recipes. From breading proteins and vegetables for frying to cookies and pie and all in between. I personally really enjoy foods with cornmeal in them, and who doesn’t love a nice slice of warm cornbread or a basket of hushpuppies?

Today, I wanted to find a recipe for cornmeal cookies and I did find one, then I found my recipe for cornmeal dumplings, which I really like on chili, chicken stew or greens. And all of a sudden an entire column was born featuring cornmeal in the spotlight.

Enjoy exploring uses for cornmeal and maybe enjoy a few of these recipes here today as well. Be sure to go online to see all of the recipes and the full column.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

* 1 cup all-purpose flour

* 1 cup cornmeal

* 2 tablespoons baking powder

* 1 tablespoon sugar

* 1 1/2 cups orange juice

* 3 tablespoons canola oil

* 1 egg, beaten

* 1 cup blueberries, thawed if frozen

Garnish: fresh blueberries, light maple syrup

In a bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and sugar. Add juice, oil and egg; stir well. Gently fold in blueberries.

Heat a lightly greased griddle over medium-high heat. Pour batter onto griddle, making small pancakes. Cook pancakes until bubbles appear around the edges; flip and cook on other side. Garnish as desired. Makes about 24 pancakes, serves six.


Perfect cornmeal cookies

Easy Cornmeal Cookies

Easy Corn Cookies made with polenta or cornmeal and honey.

* 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

* 1/2 cup caster sugar or granulated sugar

* 1/4 cup brown sugar

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1 large egg, room temperature

* 2 teaspoons honey

* 1 1/4 cup plain flour or all purpose flour

* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

* 3/4 cup cornmeal or polenta

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fan-forced. Line two baking trays with baking or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla, egg and honey and mix again until combined.

Sift in the plain flour and baking soda. Add the cornmeal or polenta and salt and stir until combined. Roll balls of cookie dough using your hands, approximately 1.5 tablespoons each, and place on prepared trays.

Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Cornmeal Dumplings


These are really tasty! I love them cooked on top of my chili, pinto beans, white beans, greens or chicken and broth and stews.

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 cup flour

* 2/3 cup cornmeal

* 2 teaspoons baking powder

* 1 teaspoon sugar

* 1 egg, beaten

* 1/3 cup milk

* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Make a well in center and add wet ingredients. Mix well.

When chili is done, keep it low-simmering and drop your dumpling batter by the tablespoon onto the simmering chili. Do not flip them over after you drop them in. The top should be dry. Cover pan and cook 15 to 20 minutes.

Scoop into individual bowls.

Garnish with your choice of green onions, sour cream, cheese, and cilantro if desired!

Source: I do not remember where I got this recipe. I have had it for many years and it is handwritten but there is no name on it. But it sure is good simmered on top of chili!

Any-Berry Muffins with Cornmeal Streusel

Raspberry, blueberry, blackberry — whip up these cornmeal muffins with any combination you have on hand for a berry good breakfast or brunch. Bigger isn’t always better. Small berries, just as blueberries, can be added to the batter whole, if using larger ones such as oversized blackberries or strawberries, chop them into smaller pieces so the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the muffin. The crunchy cornmeal crumble adds so much texture and sweetness to these muffins, yet they are not overly sweet — just sweet enough to curb an early morning or midday craving, and perfect with afternoon tea or coffee. A great use for the season’s berries, this recipe is short and easy; you probably have everything already. Remember not to overmix your batter, or your muffins will be tough.

* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided

* 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. plain yellow cornmeal, divided

* 1 cup granulated sugar, divided

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and divided

* 1/2 cup whole buttermilk

* 1 large egg

* 1 large egg yolk

* 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1 1/3 cups fresh berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries)

Preheat oven to 425 degreees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with 12-paper cupcake liners. Whisk together baking powder, salt, 1 1/3 cups of the flour, and 1/3 cup of the cornmeal in a medium bowl; set aside.

Stir together 1/4 cup of the sugar, 3 tablespoons of the melted butter, and remaining 1/3 cup flour and 2 tablespoons cornmeal in a separate bowl until crumbly; reserve for streusel topping.

Whisk together buttermilk, egg and yolk, vanilla, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until well combined. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Slowly pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture, stirring with a spatula until just combined (it will be lumpy). Fold in berries and remaining 5 tablespoons melted butter.

Scoop batter into prepared pan until each cup is three-fourths full (about 3 tablespoons each). Top each with about 1 tablespoon reserved streusel topping. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of each muffin comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Remove from oven; cool in pan five minutes. Cool muffins on a wire rack, about 10 minutes.


Southern Corn Spoon Bread

Such a delightful change from traditional cornbread! If you are “Team Savory” for cornbread and not into sweet cornbread, you’ll adore this recipe. It’s fluffy, tender, and literally melts in your mouth. Creamed corn and sour cream keep this from being dry. Heating the cast iron skillet in the oven with oil is the way most Southerners make cornbread and it makes the edges crispy. This will be perfect with beans, soups, chili or just for snacking.

* 1/2 cup vegetable oil

* 1/4 cup vegetable oil (reserved for pan)

* 3/4 cup self-rising flour (Martha White)

* 1 cup self-rising cornmeal (Martha White)

* 1 cup sour cream

* 2 eggs

* 1 cup cream style corn

* 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grab a cast iron pan. (Use a No. 8 or No. 10 cast iron skillet.) Pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into pan and place in the oven.

While the pan is heating up with the oil, mix all ingredients together using a wooden spoon.

Pour batter into the hot skillet.

Return to oven at bake until golden; approximately 30 minutes.


Amish Onion Patties

* 1 cup all-purpose flour

* 2 teaspoons white granulated sugar

* 2 teaspoons baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

* 2 tablespoons cornmeal, self-rising or regular

* 2 1/2 cups chopped onions

* 1 cup milk

* 1/2 cup Canola cooking oil

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, black pepper and cornmeal in a large bowl. Mix in chopped onions. Pour in milk and mix well with spoon.

Heat oil in skillet on top of the stove. Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil. Cook on one side until brown and flip to cook on other side. I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup full of batter for each patty. You can add more oil to the skillet if you need to do so while frying. Makes 10 to 12 onion patties.

Notes: You could add some garlic powder or hot sauce or any other seasonings you like to the batter before cooking if you like hot and spicy.


Southern Hot Water Cornbread

Hot water cornbread is a wonderful Southern recipe you will make over and over again for your family. This quick and easy recipe is delicious.

* 2 cups self-rising cornmeal

* 1 teaspoon salt

* Hot water boiling

* Oil for frying

Mix cornmeal and salt in bowl. Add boiling hot water until batter just sticks together. Scoop and mold into balls. (I do this with my hands and make balls about the size of a walnut. Drop in hot grease and fry until golden brown.


Fried Cornmeal Mush

This old-fashioned recipe for Fried Cornmeal Mush is one that won’t ever go out of style. Most Midwesterners will tell you it’s one of their go-to breakfast staples, while some folks will say it makes a tasty side dish! However you eat it, there’s no denying it’s good.

* 2 3/4 cups water

* 1 cup yellow cornmeal

* 1 cup cold water

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1 teaspoon sugar

* 3 tablespoons butter

* 1/4 cup real bacon bits

* Maple syrup for drizzling

Coat an 8- x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil over medium heat. Gradually stir in cornmeal, cold water, sugar, and salt; cook until thick. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour into loaf pan, cool, and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Invert onto board and cut into 1-inch slices.

In a skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and fry cornmeal slices for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides. Sprinkle with bacon bits and drizzle with maple syrup.


Southern Corn Casserole

This is not your grandmother’s corn pudding! By that, I mean that it is not the corn pudding with a dozen eggs in it that cooks up all light and souffle like. This is a denser and hardier corn pudding and it is also something boys seem to love. This corn pudding is also very easy to put to together.

* 1 can cream style corn

* 1 can Niblets corn

* 8 ounces sour cream

* 1 box Jiffy Cornbread mix

* 1 egg

* 1/2 stick butter

* 2 tablespoons sugar

* 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Melt butter, add Jiffy cornbread mix, egg, sour cream, sugar and the corn. Drain the can of Niblets corn. Mix well until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Be sure to not skip this step, because this will stick. Pour it in the dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the 2 cups cheese over the top and return to oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown.


Cornmeal Biscuits

These delicious biscuits will be an instant hit, slathered with your favorite biscuit toppings!

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

* 2 teaspoons baking powder

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar

* 6 tablespoons very cold butter

* 1 cup buttermilk

* 2 tablespoon butter melted for tops

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Either grate or cut in very small pieces the 6 tablespoon of cold butter into the flour mixture. Mix until flour is like coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir until all ingredients come together into a ball. Turn out on floured surface and pat or roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter or a glass will do, to cut out round circles.

Place on ungreased baking pan and brush tops with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for about 10 to 12 minutes making sure the bottoms do not burn. You may need to turn on the broiler to brown tops for a minute if you like them crunchy on top. Makes 12 biscuits.


Cornmeal Gravy

* 1/2 cup corn meal

* 1 cup water

* Salt and pepper, to taste

* 1 cup milk or buttermilk

* 1 teaspoon oil or bacon grease

In heavy skillet brown corn meal to a golden brown, add salt and pepper, then stir in the oil.

Combine the milk and water and pour as much as needed to boil. Make sure the gravy is thin enough too, because it will thicken slightly after it is cooked. Let boil for about 2 minutes.

Of course you can also fry a little sausage, then add the cornmeal to brown and go from there. The sausage will release plenty of fat to cook the gravy. I like to leave the sausage bits in it for extra flavor.


Cornmeal Pie

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 1 1/2 cups sugar

* 3 eggs

* 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup

* 1/2 cup milk

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1/2 cup cornmeal

* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

* 2 unbaked pastry shells (9 inches)

* Whipped cream, optional

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add corn syrup, milk and vanilla; mix well. Fold in cornmeal and flour. Pour into pastry shells.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until set (cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary). Cool on a wire rack. Garnish with whipped cream if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.



* 2 cups cornmeal

* 1 tablespoon flour

* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1 egg

* 3 tablespoons finely copped or grated onion

* 1 cup buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients, add beaten egg, onion and buttermilk. Mix well and drop by teaspoonful into hot deep oil. When they float they’re done. Makes about 20 to 25 hushpuppies.


Cornmeal Muffins

I love, love, love cornmeal muffins but I’ve found the ones I made in the past turned out dry. When I spotted this recipe in the food section of the Times, I had to try it. I take no credit for designing this recipe — all of that goes to Melissa Clark in the New York Times food section.

* 2 sticks butter

* 1 1/2 cups flour

* 2 cups cornmeal

* 2/3 cups sugar

* 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

* 1 cup sour cream or whole milk yogurt

* 1/2 cup milk

* 2 eggs, at room temp

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.

Melt the butter. When it’s cool, whisk in the sour cream, milk, and eggs.

In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Drop the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle a bit of coarse sugar on the tops if you like.

Bake until golden and beginning to brown around the edges, 18-20 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve perhaps with more butter? A little honey?


Cornbread Pudding

This Cornbread Pudding is a wonderful addition to any meal and makes a delicious side dish!

* 2 cups yellow self-rising cornmeal mix ( such as Martha White)

* 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

* 1 (14.75 ounce) can cream style corn

* 2 eggs

* 1 stick butter or margarine or 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons, melted

* 1/4 cup green onion chopped (can use regular onion)

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 cup buttermilk

* 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided (Can use any kind of cheese you like)

Mix cornmeal with whole kernel corn and cream style corn with a spoon; add eggs and butter and continue mixing. Add onion, salt, buttermilk and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Pour into a well-sprayed casserole dish, about 10×10-inches.

Sprinkle remaining cup of shredded cheese on top. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven 35 to 40 minutes until brown on top. Makes about 12 large servings


Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.